Where is the line between patriotism and ignorance?

After September 11, American patriotism was perhaps at an all-time high; Americans across the country were united in tragedy and felt close, bound together by a common goal of justice.

Just a little over a decade ago, it seemed we were a country of one.

But that patriotic feeling subsided, and the U.S. now seems ideologically divided and emotionally disconnected.

One glaring example is in the words of Rock n’ Roll legend Ted Nugent, who said if Barack Obama is reelected, he will, “either be dead or in jail this time next year.”

Depending on your view of the comment itself or your perception of redneck gun-nuts like Nugent, that could mean a lot or a little.

But it sounds to me like, if Obama gets reelected, Nugent plans to kill himself or kill the president. Joking or not, threats like that can land this cowboy has-been in jail.

Again, where is the line between patriotism and ignorance?

I think Nugent certainly crossed that line; there is a difference between loving your nation through thick and thin and yourself so much that you refuse to stick by the country that made you rich and famous.

This country is the only reason anyone even cares what Nugent has to say. No good can come from ignorant comments such as Nugent’s, and he should care about the U.S. enough not to infect its citizens with mindless blabber about

suicide and assassination.

Where is the line?

Well, a true patriot wouldn’t turn his back on his home, no matter how much he hated the current policies. Instead, he would proactively work to fix these problems internally with poise and knowledge.

YSU sophomore Taylor Clark agrees the words of Nugent are a slap in the face to the country that made him famous.

“You don’t say things like that about the president, good times or bad,” she said. “He is your president. You can disagree all you want but you never go that far.”

This isn’t just a local problem; our skewed perversion of patriotism has gotten the U.S. in a lot of trouble globally as well.

In January, American soldiers in Afghanistan were filmed urinating on dead Taliban bodies, taunting them and screaming “golden shower.”

Afghan president Hamid Karzai said the video affectively squashed what little peace efforts were in the works, and leaders in the country called the video a “recruitment tool for the Taliban.”

Recently, the Los Angeles Times ran photos of American troops posing with the dismembered body parts of Afghan bombers.

The war venue is one I am utterly unfamiliar with, so I spoke with YSU senior Travis Stauffer, who spent 6 years in the Navy.

At first, he viewed incidents like this as appalling.

“You don’t piss on the enemy,” Stauffer said. “It’s war, and you are representing the United States.”

Shortly after, he took the view of the soldier into consideration.

“After you see what a soldier sees every day for so long, your image of what is right and what is wrong changes,” he said.

We must realize that patriotism is a privilege, not a right, and must be cherished and protected from overzealous individuals poised to tarnish it.

In good times and bad, a patriot is a patriot; part of being a model patriot is acting prudently and in accordance to American values, not acting out of spontaneous hate.

Suffragist and pioneer settlement worker Jane Addams said, “Unless our

conception of patriotism is progressive, it cannot hope to embody the real affection and the real interest of the nation.”

It is sad that the few misguided words and actions are misrepresenting the “real affection” and “real interest” that many Americans truly do feel.